God as visualised by the Saints
Do the Saints believe in monotheism or dualism or trinity? Saints do not believe in duality or trinity. They look upon monotheism from a realistic point of view. Does the mere belief in 'One' amount to monotheism? If the matter is examined carefully then the belief in 'One' leads to a conception of trinity.
- The thing to be conceived
- the person who conceives; and
- the belief.
Where there is a conception of three, monotheism cannot exist. He who tries to establish monotheism by reasoning, in fact demolishes it.
To reason out monotheism is to kill it.
If there is one and only one, there can be no dialogue by the one. A dialogue can only take place if there are two. One would then talk, taste or smell the other. If there is only one, who will hear or smell or taste or say? The Saints have, therefore, drawn attention to the One Reality.
If I say one, He is not so. If I say two, it would be blasphemy. He is what He is, says Kabir after profound thought.
If He is said to be one, then He is not the only one; for the word 'one' cannot be used unless there are two entities. If they are said to be two, both become limited and localised. Whether we use the words Rehman Merciful, and Shaitan Devil, or Dayal Merciful, and Kal Negative Power, both are limited. This leads to variation in principle.
Mind, speech and intellect have no place here. When He was hidden in Himself He was neither one nor two. He had no form or attributes. Exactly what He was cannot be described. The hidden One can only be described when He becomes manifest. In the unmanifested state He was inconceivable, unknowable, and nameless. He was neither the Doer nor the nature, nor the Creator. There was neither creator nor the creature, nor even the creation. This state can be realised to a certain extent in deep sleep. The Saints have made this state (nameless) as their ideal.
The Gurus have described the Supreme Lord or the nameless Being as Wad Purush Great Lord, Soami Lord, Khasam owner, Adi Niranjan Immaculate One, and Nirankar Formless One.
You are all-pervading. What shall I say; hear You my Master. You are the Great All-Wise.
Sri Rag M5, 51-13
You are the great Lord; you are Unperceivable and Invisible; in our search we find You unfathomable. You are yonder of the yond; and You alone know Yourself.
Kanara M4, 1296-7
Sing the praises of the Lord; you will have all your wishes fulfilled. Nanak remembered the Lord; He was redeemed.
Bilawal M5, 848-15
He is the Lord of myriads of universes, the Sustainer of all life. He takes care of all and supports all; but the universe acknowledges not His beneficence.
Sorath M5, 612-6
You are my shield, oh Lord, so I think not of any other; and I remain carefree Leaning on your Name.
Ramkali M5, 884-4
Sublime and most high is the Lord's Court, unfathomable and beyond thought. Says Nanak, it is through the Lord's Name that one is blest with Glory.
Maru M5, 1003-14
Oh, our infinite Lord, You who are from the beginning of the beginning, oh, our primal Lord, our Immaculate One, I reflect on how to be attuned to you, oh, embodiment of Truth.
Maru M1, 1023-11
He is beginningless and an Immaculate One: He is without any attributes. He pervades all and yet He is separate from all.
Maru M5, 1075-13
Tulsi Sahib also described Him as the Lord and by origin of all.
Oh Lord! You are the origin of all. The Saints say that the Lord's abode is very beautiful and is a resting place for the devotees. The Saints wholly and solely depend upon Him. The Lord's abode is beauteous; in it abide the devotees. They live in this hope.
Sri Rag M5, 80-19
The Lord's station is also called Hari Rai (Lord of Lords) and Maha Dayal (Most Merciful) in the Gurubani.
He is the sustainer of the world, most beneficent, most wise and most merciful is He.
Gauri M5, Chhand 249-7
That great Lord is invisible, infinite, imperceptible and most wonderful. He is self-existent and Self-Luminous.
You are the merciful Lord. You are not subject to death. You are indescribable. You are unknowable and wonderful.
Mam M1, 1038-15
He is invisible, infinite and unfathomable. He is beyond death and deeds. He is self-existent, unborn and without caste. He is beyond attachment or delusion.
Sorath M1, 597-5
The Lord is beyond time and timelessness, high and separate. All the creation is under His orders, yet He is not the doer. He is beyond form and formlessness. He is omnipresent and the sustainer of all; creator, immovable, all-powerful, imperishable, redeemer of sinners, unknowable, inaccessible, without beginning, eternal and pure consciousness. He is everlasting, invulnerable, a storehouse of knowledge and nectar, without attributes, kind to devotees, self-existent, apart from all, an ocean of sweetness and is omnipresent. He is the embodiment of Shabd the Holy Spirit or the Sound Current and His Name sustains all. The Name has the qualities of the named One.
His abode is described by the Gurus as Nij-ghar Own Home, Nishchal Dham Immovable Abode, and Param Pad Supreme Abode. He partakes both of time and timelessness and form and formlessness. Whatever is seen is His manifestation.
Guru Nanak has described Him in Jap Ji as follows:
The One, of form the Primal Sound (Om), Of name the eternal True, of being the Creator, without fear, Without enmity, Timeless existence, Unborn, Self-existent with the Grace of the Master.
It is impossible to describe that great Lord, who is nameless, ever-existent, the immaculate one, and without attributes. He is beyond mind and speech. He cannot be understood or known by intellect and imagination. He is experienced by the soul only when the mind and intellect are stilled.
He has been described as 'One'. This is a clue to His form. Ancient sages have described Him as OM. By contemplating upon the component letters of OM, the gods Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh (shiva), the powers of creation, sustenance and destruction were conceived, and the foundation of the Hindu trinity was laid.
The Gurus however, take the figure 1 or the word One to represent that existence which is beyond description and utterance. He who is One and who has no partner. The placing of the figure 1 before OM shows that One does not refer to the trinity. The One is considered superior to all because when the timeless One conceived the idea of creation, there emanated from Him a sound which resembled the sound of Om.
Muslim holy men describe this sound as 'Ho' and say that from it the universe was created. It is His Dhun-atmik Naam Unutterable or Inexpressible Word. Uniting ourselves with it is the means by which we may meet the Lord.
Onkar is the form in which the infinite Creator Himself manifested.
Bhai Gurdas, Var 37, Pauri-2
Bhai Gurdas again says:
The Absolute One manifests, the Figure 'I' is His manifestation. It makes me sit near Him.
Bhai Gurdas, Var 3, Pauri-15
The One grew and Onkar took form.
Bhai Gurdas, Var 6, Pauri-4
The One grew and Onkar took various forms.
Bhai Gurdas, Var 18 Pauri-1
The self-born is One; there was motion in Him, and it produced Onkar.
Bhai Gurdas, Var 22, Pauri-1
That One is inconceivable. Know Him to be the Reality.
Bhai Gurdas, Var 22, Pauri-14
All this creation has come out of Ekankar (One). He who understands the secret of 'I' thereby becomes the Creator and the Lord.
Know the secret of the One. Become the Creator and the Lord.
Ramkali M1, 930-18
The secret of 'I' is revealed in those pure hearts whose bodies become motionless, whose minds and senses are stilled, and whose attention (Surat) and sight (Nirat) become one-pointed. In other words, when the mind and intellect become calm, salvation is the result.
He who serves the One becomes emancipated. His comings and goings cease.
Ramkali M1, 930-12
The Gurmukh attains the One. But such a one is rarely found.
Ramkali M1, 930-15
He who knows the One to be One, He knows all, both here and hereafter.
Gauri M4, 281-11
Sat Naam – True Name of God is that Truth which does not perish in the three periods of time (past, present and future). It is always True and does not change. It is the Personal Name of the Lord.
The fifth Guru in the line of Guru Nanak has said:
The tongue utters Your definitive Name. Sat Naam is Your age-old original Name.
Maru M5, 1083-12
All other names are definitive ones which describe some quality or virtue, as for example He is called the Creator because He creates, or the Merciful Lord because He showers mercy.
To understand Sat, commonly translated as Truth, is very difficult. It is different from truth and untruth. Truth and untruth are a pair of opposites and receive light from each other.
The Gurus, however, speak of that Sat which is self-luminous and self-sufficient. Both truth and untruth do not exist there. It is that Sat which sustains both the truth and the untruth.
The Guru Granth Sahib has clearly stated:
True, True, True is He, Nay, not one is separate from True Purush.
Gauri M5, 250-17
This Sat is experienced when the mind and senses are stilled and he who gets this experience knows the Creator.
To him who knows Him all is truth. Oh Nanak, He alone is true.
Gauri M5, 285-8
He who believes in God as Truth in his heart, knows the essence of the Creator, the Cause of causes.
Gauri M5, 285-9
According to the dictionary the word Naam (Name) comes from a Sanskrit root meaning 'known, deterministic and definitive.' The word by which we call a person or thing in order to distinguish him or it from others is called its name. But in Guru Granth Sahib by Naam (Name) means that all-pervading power which governs all universes and regions, which is the fountain-head of all knowledge and contemplation, and which sustains all.
Guru Arjan sings praises of this Naam as follows:
Naam sustains all knowledge and contemplation. Naam sustains all skies and underworlds. Naam pervades all the worlds.
Gauri M5, 284-12
The Lord manifests Himself as Naam. Sat is a wave of that eternal existence. The soul gets connected with It and enjoys Its bliss. The Lord is one; but when it reveals Itself, It is realised as Sat Naam True Name. The soul experiences It by uniting with Its definite and indivisible existence. This is neither a matter of talk nor of mere imagination. Saints and seers experience It and they admit that they do so. There is no room for doubt in the matter.
The Supreme Lord Karta Purush is the Creator of the universes. In the external world, one makes an article, from some material, but He requires no help or aid from any quarter for creating the universe. He is the Supreme Being of all and is capable of doing everything. He creates all out of His own Being. Therefore, He is the real Creator.
Some believe that this universe came into being of itself. But others believe in God, soul and matter as three primary entities which are interdependent. They may be eternal within their respective spheres. The Saints, however, say that all have been created by the One and that He is the Cause and Creator of all. In the external world, a potter is dependent upon clay for making his pottery wares. But the One does not have to depend on anything in order to be a Creator. All are created by Him. He Himself is the Creator. He creates the universe by His will. He is all-powerful and can do everything. In the mundane world the three powers, Brahma Creater, Vishnu Sustainer, and Mahesh (Shiva) Destroyer rely on His will for their working. Therefore, it is necessary to give up the created and serve the Creator. He is the creator, sustainer and destroyer of all.
You know not that One. You mistake the created for the Creator.
Bhai Gurdas, Var 15, Pauri-7
Fearless (Nirbhai) – That One is without fear because He is the most powerful being and creator of all. Everything else has been created by Him. They are not His equals and so He has no fear. No god or goddess or incarnation can be His equal.
Oh Nanak, He is fearless and absolute. He created all other beings.
Asa Var M1, 464-16
By contemplating on Him, the devotees also become fearless. Give up fear and live fearlessly, merge in Him who created you.
Gauri M5, 285-10
Without enmity Nirvair: He could have feelings of enmity only if He had others like Him. But when He Himself is the warp and woof of the universe, then against whom can He feel enmity? Those who praise that one become devoid of enmity and hatred. Their hearts become calm. If anyone entertains feelings of enmity towards them, the waves of his hatred striking against their pure hearts return to the sender making him even more miserable.
He is always without enmity. However sinful you may be, give up pride and do not be afraid, of taking shelter with Him. Do not consider Him a dreadful Being. He is the embodiment of love. He is free from all defects.
He is deathless. He is beyond the reach of time and death. Time has three components: past present and future. The entire universe is confined within these limits. All take birth, grow and die within them. That One is, however, beyond the sphere of time. He is immortal, unborn and eternal for He is without beginning or end. When the "past" and "future" do not exist in Him, how can He have any "present"? He is always the same. He is beyond time, space and matter. All are subject to Kal the Negative Power, but He is Akal timeless.
You are the destroyer of Kal. You are the destroyer of Maha Kal. You are the deathless One.
Such a description might lead one to doubt the existence of such a Being. The Gurus say He is a Muni or Being or Existence. He gives light to all and can be called 'Wajud' in Persian or 'Being' in English.
Unborn – Ajuni:
When we give Him a form, we get an idea of His being subject to birth and death. In order to remove this doubt, He is described by the Gurus as Unborn Ajuni. He is never conceived in a womb. He who is free from conception and birth is also free from death. By worshipping the Birthless, one can also attain the state of birthlessness.
Self-existent – Sebham:
He is self-existent. He is self-manifested and does not have to depend for His existence on anyone. He is without a cause. All receive light from Him, but He is self-conscious and self-effulgent.
Grace of Master – Guru Parsadi:
The word Guru comes from the root Gri which means Shabd (Sound). He who gives the Shabd is the Master. Parsadi means that which is obtained through Grace. Gur Parsadi means that the above mentioned aspect of the Lord can only be experienced through the Grace of the Master. The Grace of the Master is the means of obtaining it. (See Chapter on Guru)
One can gain union with the Omnipotent Lord by repetition of Holy Names, by faith, by service, and by Satsang and it can be obtained by the practice of Shabd the Holy Spirit, Word or Sound Current, as enjoined by the Master.
This union is obtained by a very fortunate devotee only and that too only if it is ordained. The Lord can be realised only by controlling the mind. Mere performance of good deeds, austerities, pilgrimages and holy baths leads nowhere.
Supreme bliss can be had by contemplating on the Lord or by remembering Him. Egotism is annihilated and the accumulated sins of past births are wiped out. One acquires miraculous powers and receives honour in the Court of the Lord. All his wishes are fulfilled. Fear of death is banished and salvation is gained. Inner light, tranquillity and the blossoming of the lotus of the heart are experienced. Merging the spark in the Flame, man transcends the cycle of birth and death and no longer returns to the world of phenomena. (See Chapters on Soami Lord, Hari Rai and Niranjan)